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Spaniards' holiday blues

Spaniards' holiday blues
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Many Spaniards this summer have not made their usual sort of holiday plans. Economic doubts have brought a dramatic drop in hotel reservations, notably in the north and the interior.

Hotels are also worried that Madrid might raise value-added tax to 18 percent from 8 percent.

The drop in demand is clearly from Spanish national consumers.

The country’s leading hotel association said domestic bookings are down 30 percent year on year – in an industry that accounts for more than 10 percent of Spanish GDP.

The economic boom years in Spain let more and more families look forward to vacations. But the risk of not having a job is making many think twice about spending over the summer.

Francisca Cuccovilo Martinez, a school teacher married to a car factory worker, is not taking anything for granted.

Francisca said: “On July 31, my contract ends. We used to have these automatically renewed. This year we don’t know what is going to happen. If I do manage to hold on to my job, the conditions will be worse. We both decided not to take holidays.”

Eduardo’s contract ends in August, and he is afraid he will then stay unemployed. Any fiesta reputation for growing swathes of middle-income Spaniards has become a thing of the past.

Eduardo said: “We just can’t spend money that tomorrow we might not have. Taking out a bank loan to go on holidays is crazy. We prefer to stay at home, to survive.”

Spanish unemployment this spring had risen to around 25 percent. Five years ago it was around eight percent. Now an estimated 1.7 million families have no breadwinner.

The Chief Economics Editor at the Barcelona-based La Vanguardia newspaper, Jordi Goula, said: “A recent survey indicates that 70 percent of Spaniards are afraid they’ll lose their jobs in the next six months. It’s normal that people start holding onto their spending money. I think we are in the 14th consecutive quarter of declining consumer spending.”

Spanish tourism benefited last year from increased numbers of foreign holiday makers avoiding troubles in northern Africa, but so far this year growth has lagged behind other countries.